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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [before 6 January 1868?]1

In various Balanophoræ, especially Balanophora itself, the ♂ perianth is very well developed & conspicuous, the ♀ totally absent.—2 Ditto in Myriophyllum & Garrya—3 I cannot recollect other cases, nor any of the converse— I have asked Oliver & Berkeley—but not Bentham yet.4 ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠

⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ the first & only book he has ever spontaneously even looked at.

Lubbock spent last night with us, he is as nice as ever.—5

Ever aff yrs | J D Hooker

CD annotations

1.3 converse] del ink; ‘converse’ added
3.1 the first … ever.— 4.1] crossed ink
Top of letter: ‘Are flowers finely coloured? Diœcious? Or Monœ | Nectar?’6 added ink


The date is conjectured from the relationship between this letter and the letter to J. D. Hooker, 6 January [1868].
Hooker refers to the Balanophoreae, a family of root parasites (now Balanophoraceae) and the genus Balanophora. The perianths of male and female flowers are described in J. D. Hooker 1855, pp. 14–15. CD later discussed different sized corollas in male and female flowers in Forms of flowers, pp. 307–9.
Myriophyllum is a genus of mostly aquatic herbs; Garrya, commonly known as the silk-tassel or silk-tassel bush, is a genus of ornamental evergreen shrubs or small trees, native to North America (Bailey and Bailey 1976).
Hooker refers to Daniel Oliver, Miles Joseph Berkeley, and George Bentham.
Hooker refers to John Lubbock.
In J. D. Hooker 1855, p. 14, some genera of Balanophoreae are described as constantly dioecious, while others have hermaphrodite or monoecious flowers. The colours of the inflorescence are not described, but a few of the illustrations are in colour.


Bailey, Liberty Hyde and Bailey, Ethel Zoe. 1976. Hortus third: a concise dictionary of plants cultivated in the United States and Canada. Revised and expanded by the staff of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium. New York: Macmillan. London: Collier Macmillan.

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.


Discusses Balanophora with conspicuous male flowers and absent female perianth.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 47: 194
Physical description
2pp inc †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5789,” accessed on 6 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16